Here at Paste’s blog, this: The 50 Best Fantasy Books of the 21st Century (So Far)
Problems with this list:
a) It is too long. Fifty is just too big a number.
b) It was compiled thus: We’ve gathered Paste editors and writers to compile a list of our favorite books in the genre…
So you don’t mean best, then. You’re saying popular. Or maybe Our personal favorites. Neither of those strikes me as the same thing, but this We Liked It, So We Included It criterion does explain —
c) Some of these choices are just peculiar. Why on Earth would you pick out Spindle’s End by McKinley? I mean, seriously? That’s your pick? Four other books of hers came out this century, not counting Pegasus, which was half a book. Spindle’s End was not without charm, but really?
d) You list two Game of Thrones books and two Harry Potter books. Also two books by Patrick Rothfuss, Terry Pratchett, NK Jemisin. For heaven’s sake, that is just pure laziness. Can’t you stretch far enough to fill out this list without depending on such pointless repetition?
e) I personally found a few of these books seriously flawed and I loathed others that were successful at what they were trying to do, so obviously your list is faulty. Plainly I should in the future be given veto power over all titles included in every such list.
…All right, maybe (e) is going a little far. I am not ambitious enough to try creating this kind of list, plus I’m under no illusions about whether I read broadly enough to have any hope of picking out the very best titles anyway (even if that weren’t inevitably a personal judgment).
I have never yet gotten to Patrick Rothfuss. The Name of the Wind has the distinction of possibly having been on my TBR shelves the very longest. Any number of people have pushed me to read it. One day, one day. I’ve read a good many of the rest of these, though. Here are the ones I think may well belong on a list of Best Of The Century (So Far):
1. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrill by Clarke
2. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland by Valente
3. Night Watch by Pratchett
4. The King of Attolia by MWT (Or would you all pick The Queen of Attolia?)
The others I either haven’t read or thought sufficiently flawed that I wouldn’t put them on such a list. If you’re interested, you can click through and see what you think.
I listened to Clarke’s book on audio and I don’t imagine I will ever feel inclined to repeat the experience. Loooong and slow. I sort of enjoyed it, but really I only found myself engaged right at the end. However, I think it’s extremely impressive. Similarly, I personally didn’t really care for The Girl Who. But I admire it. Night Watch is imo the very best of Pratchett’s books. And The King of Attolia actually is my pick from that series, though I think a lot of people would select Queen as their favorite.
What else occurs to me as an obvious choice for a FIFTY BEST list? Let me think about that…
I’m expecting some pushback for any choices ever made for such a list, but I would be inclined to select (in no particular order):
6. Ombria in Shadow by Patricia McKillip. I’d entertain other titles rather than this one, but — not to be judgmental here — your list is a total failure if it doesn’t include a title by McKillip.
7. Declare by Tim Powers. Again, your list may as well pack up and go home if it doesn’t include something by Tim Powers — even though he’s not a great personal favorite, I can perfectly well tell that his books are very impressive.
8. Sunshine by Robin McKinley
9. The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells
10. The Curse of Chalion by LMB
11. The Goblin Emperor by “Katherine Addison”
There, that’s an even dozen, so I’ll stop there. Argh, no I won’t:
Now I feel like I need a fifteenth just to bring this list to a conclusion, but I’m drawing a blank.
I can see that this list started skewing toward Rachel’s Personal Favorites, but whatever. I think everything here is genuinely better, more interesting, more worthy of note, and more successful for what it was trying to do than almost any of the picks on Paste’s list. I would be happy to defend my picks against all comers.
What one title would you pick out for #15? Remember, you’ve got to pick something published this century.